ABC:Romans 5

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Verse 19 (Do Christians Sin?)[edit]

Patheos' Bob Seidensticker claims there is a contradiction here and asks the question, "Christians sin, just like everyone (or do they?)"[1]

Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

vs.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

This is standard Christian dogma, but things get confusing when you read the opening verse of Job, which says of Job, “This man was blameless and upright.” Even as his life was going to hell because of Satan and God’s little experiment, Job was vindicated in his belief that he had nothing to apologize for.

Job 1:1 ¶ There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

We see another example in Noah, who was also “blameless” (Genesis 6:9).

Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

But the sinless net goes a lot wider than that, because (plot twist!) ordinary Christians don’t sin.

1 John 5:18 ¶ We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

1 John 3:6-9 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

So which is it--are all people sinners, or are Christians the exception? Addendum: But why worry about sin? Every one of us is already saved. Paul draws a parallel between the man who got us into this mess (Adam, who ate the forbidden fruit and gave mankind Original Sin) and the one who got us out (Jesus, whose perfect sacrifice saved us all).

Romans 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

We didn’t opt in to get the sin of Adam, and we needn’t opt in to get the salvation of Jesus. No belief is necessary. Paul assures us we’re good.

There are two kinds of righteousness, Biblically, and Paul himself makes this plain. In fact, the entire book of Romans has as perhaps its major theme the contrast between the righteousness of the Law which noone measures up to, and the righteousness through faith which comes by trusting Jesus. Paul is contrasting two types of righteousness, a self-centered righteousness based on our works by which none will be justified because none are good enough in themselves, and a God-centered righteousness based on trusting Jesus to save us where it is God's righteousness that is credited to our accounts. (Romans 10:3-11; 3:19-28) There is no contradiction here. Paul is contrasting two types of righteousness, a righteousness according to the Law of works that nobody but Jesus measures up to, and a righteousness of faith where God credits righteousness based on trust in Jesus. (Romans 4:1-8)

God allowed Satan to test Job to justify greater rewards for him, both in this life and eternally (which he ultimately received--Job 42:10-12) while refining his character and making certain he was faithful to God. (Zechariah 13:9; 1 Peter 1:6-7; Daniel 12:10; James 1:12) God allowed Satan to persecute him; but God ultimately blessed him and showed favor to him, blessing him with twice as much as what he had lost. (Job 42:10-12) God used Job's trials to refine him, making him even stronger as a warrior for God, and justify even greater rewards for him. (Zechariah 13:9) God uses trials to refine His servants, the way that fire is used to refine metals and make them stronger. (Malachi 3:3; Proverbs 17:3; 27:21; Jeremiah 9:7; Isaiah 1:25; 13:12, 48:10; Psalms 66:10) Jesus Himself was purified and refined through sufferings, to make Him the perfect leader for all time. (Hebrews 2:10; 5:8-9) God's chastening is used to make us stronger warriors for His kingdom. Christians are thus encouraged to endure suffering as faithful soldiers of Christ. (2 Timothy 2:3; Hebrews 12:5-11) Although Job is repeatedly praised for his righteousness and endurance through trials, he ultimately sinned in speaking ignorantly of things he did not know about, and rashly condemning God. (Job 38:2; 40:2) Job himself acknowledged that he had spoken incorrectly about things he did not understand. (Job 42:3-6; 40:3-5) Job's primary error lay in justifying himself rather than God, and accusing God of punishing him without just grounds. (Job 32:2; 33:9-13; 34:5,9; 35:2-3; 40:8)

And no, Romans 5:19 does not say that everyone was made righteous by Jesus. It just says "by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." It says many, not everyone; and not even most. The verse, in and of itself, does not specify how they are made righteous. The surrounding verses show that such righteousness does not occur without condition; Romans 4:24 states that it is imputed 'IF' we believe. Romans 5:1-2 specifically says we are justified through faith. Romans 6:13-16 emphasizes that as Christians we must still deliberately make the choice not to sin.

Finally, 1 John 5 is referring to a perpetual pattern of deliberate, willful sin. As observed by the Scofield Study Bible III's note for 1 John 3:4: "3:4 committeth. Here and in similar places in this Epistle the Greek verb has the force of a continuous present tense (compare 3:5,9; 5:18) and thus denotes a person's habitual attitude toward sin as expressed in his practice or non-practice of it. John is not speaking of a state of perfection in which it is impossible for a Christian ever to sin; but he is stressing the fact that a Christian cannot keep on practicing sin, because he is born of God."

Sources[edit]

  1. Seidensticker, P. (2018, October 20). "Top 20 Most Damning Bible Contradictions." Patheos.